Summary: From our position as disciples of Christ, we are not able to determine Good from Evil in the events that overtake us; we trust in God to make everything work together for good.


33 PHILEMON 1—25 Luke 14:25-33

A poor aged Chinese farmer had a single horse on which he depended for everything. The horse pulled the plough, drew the wagon, and was the old farmer’s sole means of transportation. One day a bee stung the horse and in fright he ran off into the mountains. The old farmer went in search of him, but was not able to find him. He came home and his neighbors in the village came by and said, “We are really sorry about your bad luck in losing your horse.” But the old farmer shrugged and said, “Bad luck, good luck — who is to say?”

A week later his horse came back, accompanied by twelve wild horses whom he had obviously encountered, and the old farmer was able to corral all these fine animals, which turned out to be an unexpected windfall. Again news spread throughout the village, and his neighbors came and

said, “Congratulations on your good luck, this bonanza out of the sky” To which the old farmer once again shrugged and said, “Good luck, bad luck who is to say?”

The only son of the farmer decided to make the most of this good for-tune, so he started to break the wild horses so they could be sold and be put to work in the fields. But, as he attempted to do this, he got thrown off one of the horses and his leg was broken in three places. When word of this accident spread through the village, again the neighbors came, saying, “We are sure sorry about the bad luck of your son getting hurt.” The old man shrugged and said, “Bad luck, good luck — who is to say?” Two weeks later a war broke out between the provinces in China. The army came through conscripting every able-bodied male under fifty. Because the son was injured, he did not have to go, and it turned out to save his life, for everyone in the village who was drafted was killed in the battle. (1)

A certain event may have every appearance of evil at the time it occurs, like a valued horse running away, or a leg getting broken. And yet, in the mysterious unfolding of life, what seemed so bad at the time turns out to be the means to unexpected good. Had the horse not run off, the twelve new horses would not have come. Had the leg not been broken, the son’s life might have been lost. Therefore, the old fanner’s reaction each

time was profoundly wise. He accepted the shape of his creatureliness and refused to hand down ultimate verdicts on things until they had run their course.

In Genesis chapter 3, Satan, the Old Liar, told Eve that eating the forbidden

fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil would open her eyes making her like God knowing the difference between Good and Evil. Of course that was not true. We don’t control the Providence of God, we do not know how things will turn out.

Obviously, we don’t know always know what is good for us We did not create this universe and therefore do not have the capacity to determine the ultimate nature of these realities. ‘What is finally good and evil is literally beyond our finite abilities. Humility and openness to mystery are an essential attribute of a disciple of Christ.

St. Paul’s said we, “know in part and prophesy in part, that our seeing is always as through a glass darkly. ” Even the great teacher Paul, could only teach (prophesy) part of the truth of God.

God is at work for good. The One who created the universe and knows fully good and evil. He is in capable of turning our fortunes and misfortunes. God is not always obvious or predictable in how he works, but again and again in history, he takes the worst of times and does the best of things with them like he did with the runaway horse and the broken leg. (1)

Years ago, Herb Gardner wrote a play called “A Thousand Clowns.” The title comes from a metaphor the chief character uses in try-ing to help his young nephew understand the wonder of being alive. He said, “Every day is like going to the circus. You remember how a little car always drives into the middle of the ring, and it looks so tiny, and then all of a sudden, all of the sides open up and out pop a thousand clowns? You never dreamed that all those people could be in such a tiny vehicle, but somehow they were.

“This is the shape of life, my boy. There is always so much more to any event than we humans can see on the surface. Do not ever assume you know everything about anything. Every day is a little car filled with a thou-sand clowns — learn to be humble and a friend of mystery and who knows how you will be surprised?” (2)

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